U.S. imposes sanctions on Venezuela state oil firm PDVSA

Jan 30, 2019, 00:42
U.S. imposes sanctions on Venezuela state oil firm PDVSA

The US announced sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company, aiming to increase pressure on Mr Maduro to leave office.

In response, USA national security adviser John Bolton warned of "serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido", in a tweet that described Saab as the "illegitimate former Venezuelan Attorney General".

Venezuela's economy has crumbled under Mr Maduro and political turmoil has raged with inflation seen rising to 10 million per cent this year, leading to food shortages, protests and mass emigration. Guaidó is regarded as Venezuela's real leader by the US and the European Union, while Russian Federation and China have thrown their support behind Maduro.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday certified that Guaido has authority to take control of bank accounts that Venezuela's government has in the Federal Reserve Bank of NY or any other U.S. -insured banks.

But Mr Guaido's team may try a number of things, even if they were unlikely to work, because "politically it shows he is trying to do something, that he has power", Mr Holder said.

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Several countries, including the United States, Lima Group members except Mexico, Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel, as well as the Organization of American States, recognized Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela.

On Wednesday, a week after Maduro officially began his second term, Guaidó swore himself in as interim president of Venezuela, declaring he would carry the mantle until free and fair elections could be held.

Rosneft, Russia's biggest oil producer, operates in Venezuela and has issued loans to PDVSA, backed by oil supplies.

China has said it opposes unilateral sanctions.

The new USA sanctions could cause problems for Venezuela when it comes to servicing its sovereign debt to Russia, which stands at $3.15 billion, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told reporters on Tuesday. Such prepayment could be in violation of the sanctions, setting the stage for a standoff at the ports.

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Valero and Citgo are among the largest importers of Venezuelan crude.

The U.S. State Department says American's shouldn't travel to Venezuela and it warns of unrest and the threat of being arbitrarily arrested.

Guaido rejected accusations from Maduro and others that the U.S.is staging a coup, saying Venezuelan citizens are simply exercising their constitutional rights.

In an apparent effort to minimise negative fallout in the United States, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Citgo in the United States would be able to continue to operate provided funds go to a blocked account.

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